Fight against cancer gets a boost in sub-Saharan Africa

PRETORIA, Nov 23 (NNN-SANEWS) — The National Cancer Registry (NCR) has been named one of three IARC-GICR Collaborating Centres for sub-Saharan Africa by the International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) Global Initiative for Cancer Registry Development (GICR).


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified common childhood cancers and cervical cancer as global priorities.


While 80% of children diagnosed with cancer in high-income countries survive, only 20% of children with the disease in low and middle-income countries survive.


The WHO has made childhood cancer a global priority to reduce these disparities and improve cancer outcomes for children.


The NCR, a division of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), said cervical cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in women in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.


The NCR serves as South Africa’s main source of national cancer incidence data.


The WHO has launched a global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer, which involves increasing human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in girls to 90%, twice-lifetime cervical screening to 70%, and treatment of cervical pre-cancer and cancer to 90%, also known as the 90-70-90 cervical cancer elimination strategy.


“As the IARC-GICR Collaborating Centre, the NCR will be responsible for building capacity for childhood cancer registration in cancer registries in sub-Saharan Africa.


“The NCR will also be responsible for training cancer registries on linking patient records from HPV vaccination registers, cervical cancer screening registers and cancer registries for monitoring the progress of cervical cancer elimination in sub-Saharan Africa,” the NICD explained.


Acting Head of the NCR, Dr Mazvita Muchengeti, said: “Our data systems for HPV vaccination, cervical cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and death registration are fragmented.”


She believes that these need to be harmonised to accurately measure progress towards cervical cancer control and to make policies that work in sub-Saharan Africa.


“A global and regional partnership, along with the mobilisation of networks for sharing knowledge and experiences, is crucial to cervical cancer control.”


As a part of reducing global disparities in the survival of children with cancer, Muchengeti said data-driven policies are needed.


“Every child with cancer should be counted and the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed so that we can adequately allocate resources to control childhood cancer.”